Too Many Choices?

“When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost – and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.”

— T.S. Eliot

Having too few choices is constraining, oppressive, confining, and frustrating.

But having too many choices is also bad. How many of us have experienced analysis paralysis or decision fatigue?

One of the basic InterPlay forms is Walk, Stop, Run. As the name implies, participants choose from three movement options: walking, stopping, and running. We move (or stop) accompanied by music, in a group. Something powerful happens when we restrict ourselves to those three options. With so few choices, the moment to moment decision-making can become clear and conscious, and I can easily slip into either mindfulness or unconscious flow.

Who chose the red brick?

But, invariably, there are people who can’t tolerate those restrictions. They stretch the rules, break the boundaries, push the definitions, and otherwise mess around with the instructions. The tricksters skip, hop, dance, sashay, and lie down, or grab a partner and do-si-do.

I used to hate those tricksters. They weren’t following the rules.

But now…

Now, I have a choice.

Some days, I walk, stop, and run, but nothing else.

And some days I fly.

But, I like to have the choice.

Sometimes, I even choose to play “No-frills Walk, Stop, Run,” a variation where we agree in advance to truly limit ourselves to those three, simple, movement patterns. And there is something poignant in having chosen that simplicity.

So, choice is good.

But, give me an unfamiliar deli with three walls of sandwich menus when I am hungry and I will hunt you down and eat you rather than read the entire list before choosing.

(Maybe it’s a good thing I gave up bread and don’t eat sandwiches anymore.)

How about you? Do you thrive with free choice or working within limits?

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Posted on March 2, 2012, in Creativity, Play and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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